Choosing Schools

Recently, Bruno Manno in Education Week explains that approximately 29 million students are enrolled in the school of their choice (free registration required). This means that over 50 percent of K-12 students attend public charter or cyber schools, private schools, home school, attend public schools outside their district, or parents admit to choosing a house based on school district. Manno’s school choice breakdown is below:

  • Charter schools are among the fastest growing, with more than 1.7 million students currently enrolled, and an estimated 420,000 students are on waiting lists. Charters serve primarily nonwhite students—over 60 percent—and 48 percent are from low-income families, according to federal data.
  • Private schools educate about 6.1 million students—11 percent of total K-12 students. Twelve states and the District of Columbia have vouchers or tax-credit programs that provide scholarships to mainly low-income students to attend private school.
  • As of 2007, 1.5 million children were being home schooled, nearly double the number of students in 1999.
  • While traditional public schools enroll around 49 million students, approximately 12.7 million of these student’s parents admit choosing their home based on the school district. Additionally, many states allow students to attend schools outside their assigned boundaries, accounting for about 7.4 million students attending alternative public schools.

When it comes to school choice, the discussion is no longer should it exist. It’s already here. Parents are voting for school choice with their feet—actively deciding what school their child will attend. Rather, the question now is how policymakers will embrace the movement and promote school choice for all students.